Reporting Sarah Arbogast
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Butler County boy who is battling a serious disease has made a generous donation.
The 6-year-old and his family have been raising money, and today they presented a big check at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Like most 6-year-olds, Austin Rath is full of energy. Looking at him, you would never know what he’s been through.
At birth, he was diagnosed with an illness known as Short Gut Syndrome and doctors had to remove 90 percent of his intestines.
“There’s frequent hospitalizations and there’s a lot of complications, so the mortality rate is actually 80 percent after five years,” said Jennifer Rath, Austin’s mom. “So he’s really already beaten the odds by being as healthy as he is.”
Austin can’t absorb most foods and drinks, so he’s hooked up to IV nutrition most of the day.
He can’t have any sugar at all, and that means no juice, fruit and certainly no cupcakes.
“He’s not allowed to eat any type of sugar from fruit to juice to sweets, and so it’s really hard at school when there is a birthday event or for the holidays or trick or treating,” said Jennifer.
Tired of not being able to have those snacks, Austin and his mom have created Austin’s Cupcake Fund.
The goal is to raise money for research being done by Dr. David Hackam. He’s working with stem cells to develop artificial intestine that would benefit patients like Austin.
In just three months, Austin collected more than $61,000 dollars, mostly by setting up a page on Facebook. Today, the check was presented to Dr. Hackam.
“He’s got this great attitude and at such a young age, he is turning it into something positive to help not just himself but many, many children like him,” said Dr. Hackam. “It’s just incredibly inspiring.”
Dr. Hackam says his research costs a lot and this money will no doubt make a huge difference.
“We’ve worked out the early kinks and now we are working on the details, and so we hope to have an artificial intestine that will benefit Austin,” added Dr. Hackam.
For more information on Austin’s Cupcake Fund: www.facebook.com/AustinsCupcakeFund